WA's liquor enforcement officers ask for more training
State Liquor Enforcement Officers have asked the Washington Legislature for the training and the authority to handle a greater range of responsibilities.
The officers said the new state law legalizing marijuana use is only one complication on the job. They now have almost triple the number of liquor licensees to check on as they did when the stores were state-run.
Because they are also dealing with more fraud and black market business on the bar scene, Liquor Enforcement Officer Diana Peters said, they would benefit from more training.
"We don't know what we'll come across when we enter one of those establishments or we confront one of those individuals," she explained. "They're never the upstanding citizens that we would hope that we would deal with."
Peters, a member of the Liquor Enforcement Bargaining Unit for the Washington Federation of State Employees, said most people assume that because they carry guns and wear badges, Liquor Enforcement officers can deal with the same types of problems as traditional law enforcement personnel.
However, she explained, their jurisdiction may be too narrow to ensure public safety. It doesn't include breaking up bar fights, theft of merchandise or even illegal truckload sales of alcohol from out of state, she said.
"They come into the state of Washington and will go to different establishments and hang out in their parking lot," she said. "They let them know, 'I've got this alcohol for sale at a cheaper rate and you're not paying the taxes on it.' But that's out of our authority, so we can't act on any of that."
House Bill 1876 would expand Liquor Enforcement officers' authority and allow them to attend the State Patrol Academy or take courses from the Criminal Justice Training Commission.
The bill's opponents are expected to question the cost of the additional training.
The bill has a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 8 a.m. in House Hearing Room D, John L. O'Brien Bldg., Olympia.